TreatMyUTI.com is an online service founded by a group of physicians that offers online access to physician diagnosis and treatment of uncomplicated urinary tract infections with no office visit, exam or lab test required.
This is important because it speaks to a much larger trend within health care, and that’s the continued rise of telehealth-type services as patients and providers increasingly battle a crisis of access and affordability of health care.
As reported by Drug Store News, telehealth is expected to experience a sharp rise in the number of patients, according a report by health market research firm IHS, which projects that telehealth will reach 1.8 million patients around the world by 2017.
It also is important to note that Washington has taken notice. For example, a new bill, H.R. 6719, the Telehealth Promotion Act of 2012, introduced in the House by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., would establish that "no [medical] benefit covered shall be excluded solely because it is furnished via a telecommunications system," allowing greater access to telemedicine services through Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, Tricare, Department of Veterans Affairs and federal employee health plans.
More recently, legislation to expand the use of telehealth technology under Medicare to reduce hospital re-admissions in rural and underserved communities has been re-introduced by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
Now factor in the physician shortage. As its stands, the physician shortage is at about 10,000 and growing, and is expected to reach almost 30,000 by 2015, and more than 65,000 by 2025. And the national average wait times for a face-to-face appointment with a physician tops 20 days.
Clearly, there’s a need for greater access to healthcare services. Time will tell just how much traction a service like TreatMyUTI.com will actually get, but what is important is that healthcare professionals, like those that founded the site, continue to think out of the box and look for innovative ways to meet the healthcare needs of Americans.